After traveling to North Carolina for a shortened series against Campbell University, the Eastern Michigan University baseball team (1-1) will travel out west to Pullman, Wash., for a four-game series against the Washington State University Cougars (1-2).
The Cougars lost a pair before scoring their first win of the year this past weekend against the Western Carolina Catamounts (8-5, 15-10, 4-1). It’s too early to tell who the stars of WSU baseball are, especially because the MLB drafted the team’s two all-conference players, outfielder Derek Jones (Colorado Rockies) and first baseman Taylor Ard (Seattle Mariners), last season.
There is still good talent left on the Cougars’ roster, though. Junior outfielder Jason Monda is one of the returning starters for Washington State. He had 15 multi-hit games last season and was selected for the Pac-12 all-academic second team. Over the weekend, Monda went 6-for-14 with three RBIs and a home run.
Another player to mention is redshirt freshman third baseman Nick Tanielu. After being redshirted last year, he stepped up during his first appearance at WSU. He, like Monda, hit 6-for-14, gathering three runs and two RBIs.
This is a big series for the Eagles. Anytime a mid-major school gets the chance to play a team from a much larger conference, it’s always a great chance to see how well one can perform when faced with greater competition.
As big of a series as this is for the Eagles, it is just another set of games for head coach Jay Alexander’s 55-championship game schedule. He has said time and time again that he’s just as excited to play WSU as he is to play the Concordia University Cardinals of Ann Arbor.
In EMU’s opening series against Campbell, the top five hitters in the lineup (Daniel Russell, John Rubino, Sam Ott, Lee Longo and Adam Sonabend) went 13-for-41 at the plate, where the bulk of the hits came in the second game. A .317 average amongst five guys is not a bad deal, but the more you hit the more you score—and you’ve got to score to win.
The first game of this upcoming series is set to start Friday and senior Neil Butara (0-1) should be getting the start Friday, while redshirt senior Kendall Lewis (1-0) will likely start off Saturday’s doubleheader.
Senior right hander Joe Battistelli will look to add onto his save total (1) and possibly add to his strikeout total of four.
The series begins Friday at 2 p.m. The Eagles will host a doubleheader on Saturday with gamesbeginning at noon and 3:30 p.m., and then wrap up with game four on Sunday at noon.